clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Bolivia sanction should be a warning to Mexico

Bolivia loses 4 points after Paraguayan born Nelson Cabrera is deemed ineligible.

Soccer: 2016 Copa America Centenario-Chile at Bolivia Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

FIFA has just sanctioned Bolivia with the loss of four points and has given Peru and Chile 3-0 wins after Bolivia used an ineligible player in their September games. Nelson Cabrera came on as a substitute in both games, but the naturalized Paraguayan failed to meet the " 5-year residency after turning 18 "requirement as a naturalized player. The sanction has moved Chile up to 5th place and dropped Argentina to 6th and out of the World Cup temporarily.

The sanctions to Bolivia should be a huge wake up call to teams like Mexico, who have been known to call up naturalized players. Mexico has already been dangerously close to call up ineligible players. In 2013 there was a huge movement to call up naturalized Rubens Sambueza until it was noticed that his one substitute appearance in a U-17 World Cup had cap tied him to Argentina.

There was also the case of Christian Gimenez, who barely was ineligible after playing the 2001 U-20 South American Championship. Since Argentina was the U-20 World Cup host and the tournament served as qualifiers for it, the tournament was deemed as unofficial for Argentina. This is a defense that no longer works presently because the U-20 tournament is now also the official qualifiers for the Olympic games.

It should even be a bigger wake up call for the press and fans who normally ask for naturalized players who aren't eligible under FIFA rules. Players like Matias Alustiza, Ismael Sosa, and Guido Pizarro are routinely asked for but aren't eligible. Dario Benedetto was also one of the biggest names constantly mentioned to be called up but didn't have the" years playing" requirement, and with his move to Boca Juniors, that time frame is going to be increased.

Players that are rumored also need to be vetted like Matias Britos. Britos played the Pan American games in 2011 for Uruguay and if it the tournament is ruled as an official youth tournament, like Sosa and Sambueza, he would NEVER be eligible to play for Mexico.

For years, African teams have been sanctioned for fielding ineligible players but this Bolivia sanction hits closer to home. While many people think FIFA checks on this, it's up to the federations to check the eligibility of their players, and in many cases, it's like this, with the sanctions coming on after the game is played. Mexico has already showed to be awfully close to have a case that is punishable (had Gimenez's tournament been official, Mexico would have never made the 2014 World Cup), and losing points might be a problem that the FMF needs to be aware of.